were some bright spots that came out of Thursday night's 41-21 loss at
Kent State. Sophomore wide
receiver Spencer Wilkins was impressive, catching a career-high five
passes for 80 yards. Last season, the native of Ellicott City, Md., caught
nine passes for 123 yards with a long of 36 and one touchdown. Wilkins
has made huge strides in the spring and fall practice.
In the 2011 Tiger Bowl, Wilkins caught three passes for 96 yards,
including a 63-yard touchdown pass from Peter Athens.
Wilkins was the seventh-leading receiver last year but has moved up the depth chart pushing some of the veterans for more playing time. Head Coach Rob Ambrose will have more options at wide receiver this year as senior Erron Banks has come back strong from an injury that limited him to eight games last year. Banks caught six passes for 56 yards last year and came into the season with 50 catches for 483 yards in his career. Towson will lose Banks, and seniors wideouts Tom Ryan and Gerrard Sheppard after this season, so it's important that the younger players like Wilkins, sophomore Derrick Joseph and freshmen Arione Scott and Mac Sanders make their presence known in 2012.
No doubt, the six turnovers were a huge factor in the loss, but Towson also struggled containing speedy Dri Archer on kickoff returns. The Tigers allowed a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Archer late in the first half and also gave up a 57-yard return from Archer to start the game. That gave Kent State a tremendous amount of momentum to start the game and they wound up scoring a touchdown in 11 plays.
While Towson did give up some long returns last year against Morgan State and
Delaware, they averaged allowing a respectable 22.5 yards per kickoff
return and 4.9 yards per punt return.The coaches will make adjustments
in the next two weeks they
have to prepare for William & Mary, just as they did last season
after the Morgan State game (a 42-3 win for those who forgot).
Just like last season in the column, I'll take a look at how the rest of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) performed the previous
week. This week, there were some non-conference games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Delaware opened their season with Division II rival West Chester at home. The Blue Hens won the game 41-21, as sophomore quarterback Trent Hurley threw for 310 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. West Chester did hold all-conference back Andrew Pierce to 86 yards on 22 carries.
In other action on Thursday night, New Hampshire rolled over Holy Cross on the road, 38-17. UNH freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 71 yards on 10 carries. Georgia State, who is moving to FBS next season to play in the Sun Belt, fell at home to South Carolina State, 33-6.
On Friday night, Villanova took the short drive to Philadelphia to play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field and fell 41-10. Like Towson against Kent State, Villanova held their own statistically, accumulating three more total yards (365 to 362). But they allowed 301 yards on the ground and committed two turnovers to none for the Owls.
Towson's next opponent on Sept. 15 is William & Mary, and the Tribe played Maryland to a near-standstill on Saturday, losing 7-6 at Byrd Stadium in College Park. The Tribe played very well defensively, forcing four Maryland turnovers including picking off true freshman quarterback Perry Hills three times. William & Mary quarterback Brent Caprio injured his shoulder in the first half before sophomore Raphael Ortiz came in and threw for 100 yards (seven-of-16) and displayed excellent scrambling ability, avoiding several sacks.
In other CAA action on Saturday, Richmond fell in Charlottesville to Virginia, 43-19, James Madison dominated a future Towson opponent in St. Francis (Pa.), 55-7, and Old Dominion came back from a 20-10 halftime deficit to throttle Duquesne, 57-23, in Norfolk.